Sunday, September 22, 2013

Belvedere Castle

Central Park is kind of like a bottomless pit of awesomeness. Not only are there 21 different playgrounds (T and I have a goal to visit every single one) but there are lakes and forests, a zoo and a carousel, baseball fields and huge meadows...and even a castle! I feel like we could spend every single day exploring Central Park and still not see or do everything. But we're going to try ;)
On a gorgeous almost-fall day last week we met up with some friends and explored Belvedere Castle and picnicked by the turtle pond. The castle is beautiful, and the view from the top is really nice. It's free to visit and a quick, fun adventure in the park. Plus, both boys were tired out from hiking the stairs to the top and napped the afternoon away. Score one for the Momma! 
The 5 little adventurers on top of the castle. We are so, super sad that these amazing friends we've only barely made are moving to Texas soon.
View from the top to the West.
View from the top to the East.
We were able to check-out "adventure kits" at the castle and hike through the forest looking for animals, plants, birds and insects. The kids each had their own binoculars, backpack, magnifying glass and plant/animal reference guides. I look at the picture above of that big boy wearing his shoulder bag and wonder where my little baby went. So sad.

T and Evie stalking a squirrel.

Ever and I were hunting for bears. He was pretty excited about the whole thing...

...until he was pretty sure that he found one! Then he reminded me over and over, "I no wike beaws."

Talmage was running around in circles, loving making his own trail and exploring the 'wilderness.'
Since this was our first trip to the turtle pond I had no idea what to expect, but I definitely didn't expect to see hundreds of turtles swimming around the pond. We were very pleasantly surprised. Talmage was convinced that they were all looking at him, scared out of their minds by seeing a shark!

Just a few of the sunbathing turtles on the side of the pond.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Last night the Relief Society (the women's group at church) had a speed-dating activity so we could all get to know each other. One of the questions was "What motivates you?" and one girl and I looked at each other and in unison answered, "FOOD!" Afterwards I got her number because I'm pretty sure we're a match made in heaven ;)
So, it's true. I am severely motivated by food, particularly of the free persuasion. I will do almost anything for a free treat--including dressing my children up like pirates and walking 80 blocks to get said free treat (which yesterday just happened to be Krispy Kreme). I needn't tell you how many adoring looks we got as we marched through Columbus Circle, then Times Square and finally on to 34th Street, my pirate-chillins yelling "shiver me timber" and growling "ARRR!" at all of their admirers. Those boys sure have the streets of New York wrapped around their treasure-hunting fingers. Next time I'm going to bring a tip jar for when people want to take their pictures. I don't blame them, but maybe if we made a buck or two I wouldn't have to walk 5 miles to get those boys a free donut! I jest, I jest. We had a fabulous day and I wouldn't have traded our pirate jaunt for anything!
Little Wiggy Pirates making their most piratey faces possible.

The roof just about fell down with all the screams of the Krispy Kreme workers when our cute kids came in! They immediately put 2 dozen donuts in a bag for us, gave each of the boys balloons, and begged to take pictures with them. One of the workers let T hold his pirate sword and he was SO excited. The boys spoke in their best pirate voices and were very well-mannered!

T and Ever with their spoils! Evie kept making a hook with his finger, oh so cute.

Since we were close, we decided to eat donuts (and then lunch) in Bryant Park. I think I saw a concert there once when I was single and city-livin' but I haven't been back since and I have no idea why not. That park is amazing!!! We ate donuts by the carousel and then spent a few hours playing games, reading books, and just enjoying the area.

The park has carts full of children's books and tables with board games that anyone can read/play. I read those little pirates a few stories and then we played Candy Land (Talmage won, he's good at that game!) They also had tables with checkers, chess, jenga, etc. It was so fun and felt so homey.

Bryant Park is also home to the NYC Public Library (or is it the other way around?) so we went inside to see the free exhibit "The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter." It was amazing! You should have seen the faces of my two boys when they turned the corner and saw the Goodnight Moon room. They were floored! The exhibit was perfect because we were able to quickly walk through and get something from it, but you could also spend hours inside reading everything.

Our adventure ended as we finished our lunch in Bryant Park, listening to this piano-genius and eating one more donut. Maybe two. Thank you Krispy Kreme for helping us have a really, super delicious day! And PS--we shared a dozen donuts with T's soccer team. If we hadn't have done so, I would definitely have eaten all of them! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

St. John's and Columbia

Every week we have playgroup with some friends from church. It's always fun and I'm so grateful for all the Moms who think of awesome things for us to do. This last week we went uptown to St. John's Cathedral. In normal little kid fashion, we ran through the cathedral in about 4 1/2 minutes and then hit the gardens to find (stalk, chase, terrorize, whatever) the Cathedral's three peacocks.  
Such a super pretty church. Talmage and I had a good discussion about churches and temples and all the different religions of the world. It was deep considering it lasted 5 minutes and was with a 4-year-old.

A few of the little people climbing (agh, did their mothers really let them do that?) in the Cathedral.

Getting a picture of all of the kids is mostly pointless, but still kind of cute. You get the picture though: lots of cute blonde children (you don't have to be blonde to hang out with us, but I did notice that they're almost all towheads!) And btw, it was like attack of the strollers when we got out of the Subway at 110th.

After the Cathedral we all split up and headed in our own directions. A few of us went up to Columbia to eat our picnic and see the school. I went up to reminisce. I must admit, my stomach was churning just a little when I walked onto that campus. That first year of law school sure was a doozy, and boy everything that has happened since. It's funny that Columbia was my dream for so long (for me, and then for James) and yet it took me almost two months to even visit after coming back to the city. That's saying something. It was a hard year in so many ways, and going back I remembered some of those feelings, fears and stress. But at least Talmage didn't remember that he used to think his Daddy lived at this school because it was the only place he ever saw him ;)

And this was Ever Knight's first trip to Columbia (out of utero!) He was the reason we left this school--he was the person who brought us to Stanford, maybe that's another reason why my emotions were tingling. Everett thought everything about this campus was pretty awesome though, from the stairs to the statues to the fountains. He is such a funny kid--he looks at the picture above and says, "I'm so sad. I cwying!" Mostly he was mad that I said it was time to go. Who knows, maybe he'll be our family's first Columbia grad! Now wouldn't that be ironic.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Sometimes Supermom

I'll admit, sometimes I think I'm pretty awesome, and it happens in the most random of occasions. I'll be doing the mundane and then BAM!, this thought: I'm pretty darn cool, a supermom in disguise.

It happened today when I was eating last nights leftovers (which was especially tragic because last night was leftover night). My bowl was filled with spaghetti and macaroni noodles, a little red sauce, a little cheese warmed ever so slightly in the microwave, and as I sat down to eat it a smile crossed my face. "Look at what I'm eating," I thought. "I'm incredible!" Yep, that's all it took. Some hodge-podge in a bowl made me feel like a warrior.

The other day I loaded up my stroller for the walk home after grocery shopping. Talmage was designing a sleeve of flower stickers on his arm (bless, bless Trader Joe's and the millions of stickers they've given my children) and Everett was crying for me to hold him. That Ever, other than his giant stature you would have no idea that he is two years old. That baby of mine just loves to be babied. So, I'm walking down Broadway carrying a too-huge Everett, pushing a double stroller overflowing with food and begging Talmage to not get run over (because those NY cabbies, oh those cabbies) and all the sudden it happened, yep, for that small moment I was just about the coolest mom in the world. Randomly awesome, that's what it was.

And then there was that thunderstorm. Cue Everett's uncontrollable screams here. So we laid on the couch together in almost the middle of the night, his thumb in his mouth muffling his tender sobs. We were soaking with sweat (die humidity, die) and looking a-wreck, but oh that moment. And T's photo-bombs which produced the biggest most beautiful belly laughs I have ever heard out of his little frame, yum.

So...this is what I've decided.

#1. I'm kind of disgusting. Spaghetti and mac n cheese in one bowl? Really? And to admit it was actually pretty good.

But more importantly:

#2. Cooking healthy and having a clean house and flawless bedtime routines and all of that normal stuff that moms are supposed to do is good, it's commendable really. And I pat myself on the back for the lot of it. But it's the real life, in the trenches, ugly but beautiful moments where my heart starts racing and I really feel like the supermom they think I always am. And I'm making a conscience effort to hold on to those moments and run (because heaven knows that sometimes I think I'm ruining them for life!)

On the last blistering day of summer in New York** (94 degrees, mad humidity, so much sweat I can't even tell you) we went to Washington Square Park and ran in the fountains with friends. When we left Talmage said to me, "Mom, you are the best person in the world at thinking of fun things for us to do!" I'm pretty sure I saw a hot pink cape blowing in the wind behind me and smiled. Life is good! 
**says the weatherwoman, two weeks until it's officially fall but like it or not, the weather is changing in these parts. and i'm usually on the "don't like" team, but boy that humidity...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A little bit about B! week

Last week was B week, and I think it was a pretty spectacular B week to be honest. Talmage wakes up every morning saying, "What fun thing did you plan for Mommy school today?" so the pressure is most definitely on! With a city as busy and exciting as this one though, our letter weeks will have no problem being filled. Hopefully. Maybe I shouldn't make that promise when we're only two weeks in?
Bronx Zoo to see the Bears and Butterflies (and dinosaurs!) 
Wednesday was free day at the Bronx Zoo. You weren't thinking I had paid the crazy high admission price, right? I do want an annual membership, I think we'd definitely use it. But we can't quite swing it yet, so free day it is. The Bug Carousel is not free, but since it starts with the letter B we splurged. Talmage was in honeybee heaven. Everett sobbed unless I held his hand. He's still such my little baby!

The boys loved all the animals they saw and the rocks they climbed.

By far, by far the most exciting part of the trip was the dinosaur safari. It was T's favorite part of our zoo adventure and we've talked about it almost everyday since. We got on a huge safari truck and were driven through different prehistoric eras; there was even a time-tunnel with misters! The dinosaurs were super realistic and could move and roar.

Poor Ever. See that dinosaur on the right? Well, we learned the hard way that he not only roars but also spits. Water. Right at Everett's head. He immediately started screaming and crying in terror. And that guy on the left? He thought the whole thing was mighty entertaining.

See how real they look? So amazing. If you're ever at this Zoo, make sure you don't miss this exhibit!

Yeah, so. This picture pretty much sums up the rest of our day. Granted, it was 4 pm by the time this was taken, and we'd been out since 9 am, and they didn't have a quiet time (because our water was shut off so we couldn't go home which was the reason we went to the Zoo in the first place). {Exhale} Anyway, I asked the boys to give each other a hug for a picture and they did, but it kind of ended in a bang. Nothing a few band-aids couldn't fix.

These are some really cute but desperately exhausted faces right here!
Imagination Playground: the "Building" park

We have nicknames for some of the parks in our area--maybe that proves that we're becoming more local everyday or maybe it proves that we're one of those annoying families that nicknames everything and everyone (uh, yep, guilty). There's this one park on 81st. They boys really like it. We call it rat park because I have twice seen a rat lurking nearby. I don't like that park so much. This other park is by the south street seaport, and even though it's called Imagination Playground we call it the building park because you can build things with the big blue blocks. It also doesn't help that it's b week!
The boys let their creativity soar, and tried to understand the idea of community property (I think T was yelling, "Don't touch my work!" more than anything else!)

T and his wonderful work.

We realized that this park was super close to Daddy's office so we met him for a picnic lunch by the courthouse. We might have walked under the Brooklyn Bridge and gotten lost in Chinatown before meeting up with him. But it eventually happened, see the picture above as evidence!
Baby Bear's Birthday

I bet you didn't know that a very special member of our family had a birthday this last week. T woke up on Thursday morning telling us that it was Baby Bear's birthday and he was turning three. Baby Bear is T's best little friend, and so a party was positively in order! We had Chinese food for dinner, and then a special dessert.

T was glowing!
T and Baby Bear were blowing out the imaginary candles on his "brown" pudding with bananas!
And finally, on Friday I took the boys to the free evening at the Children's Museum where they could BE a lot of different things. Like:

Bus drivers.

Cutie pies.

And librarians. Or at least book readers!


I was having serious deja vu when I took the boys to McDonalds for fries and berry smoothies. Talmage was Everett's age when we last took this same adventure--oh how time flies!